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Labor’s Rail Revival: snail’s pace, more money, but any improvement?

The Andrews Labor Government has been called upon to explain what additional spending on the Gippsland Rail Revival project will actually deliver for Gippsland travellers and commuters.


Gippsland Nationals MPs have queried the government over its centrepiece rail project, which is over-budget and yet to deliver any tangible benefits for Gippslanders.


The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said the Andrews Labor Government had made much of its Gippsland Rail Revival program, but it was clearly now over budget and failing to deliver the promises Labor has made.


“The Andrews Labor Government announced this project on April 30, 2017 and yet here we are more than three years down the track and major works on the Gippsland line have not even started,” Mr O’Brien said.


“More concerning is that Daniel Andrews and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan have clearly gone cap-in-hand to the Commonwealth Government again for the extra $300 million announced recently.


“What is that money for and will it actually deliver any new benefits for Gippsland travellers? Or is it just to cover yet another cost blow-out on a Labor infrastructure project?”


Mr O’Brien said it was astounding that major works still hadn’t got underway on this project.


“Yes, the Avon River rail bridge at Stratford is underway and that’s a good thing, but the government’s own website states that major works on duplicating the line, rail crossing loops and station upgrades won’t commence until later this year.


“This is in stark contrast to the promises the government made back in 2017.


“On May 1, 2017 Jacinta Allan told The Latrobe Valley Express: ‘We’ve done the planning work, we’ve done the business case work and we’re ready to go.’ Labor’s Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said the project was ‘shovel-ready’.


The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath asked, if these projects were in fact shovel-ready, what has it taken so long for shovels to hit the ground?


“This is yet another example of the Labor Government making big announcements but failing to follow up with action.


“It’s telling that the Ballarat upgrade, funded under the same program, was completed at the end of last year and yet Labor has barely even started on the Gippsland Project.”


The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull said the government needed to deliver tangible benefits for train users east of Traralgon.


“We still have just three train services a day and there has been no commitment that this project will deliver additional or more reliable services.


“For communities in Wellington and East Gippsland Shire with a population the same size as Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley, our levels of service are appalling. If the government spends more than half a billion dollars to upgrade the line and we get no improvement in service, what will be the point?”


The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien is calling on the Andres Labor Government to explain additional spending on the Gippsland Rail Revival project.


22 July 2020

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